Posts Tagged ‘Hungarian film’

White God (2014) | Bfi Player

Dir/Wri: Kornél Mundruczó | Cast: Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, Lili Horvath, Szabolcs Thuroczy, Lili Momori, Gergely Banki, Karoly Ascher | 119min  Drama/Thriller  Hungary

Hungarian director, Kornél Mundruczó’s art house thriller is also a revenge flick with a touch of the “Pied Piper of Hamlin’ about it. Serving as an elusive parable on human supremacy, it scratches the edges of fantasy with some bizarre and brutal elements.

Dogs, or more correctly, mutts are the stars of the story which opens with a little girl cycling through the mysteriously empty streets of Budapest, followed by a pack of barking beasts. With is canine cast of Alsations to Labradors, Rottweilers and even little terriers, WHITE GOD also brings to mind The Incredible Journey with a darkly sinister twist. Is she escaping a virus, or a human enemy?

These dogs are clearly well-trained and credit goes to the Mundruczo for his ambitious undertaking, but then Magyars have a reputation for their horsemanship and this clearly extends to the canine species. It transpires that Lilli (Zsofia Psotta) the girl on the bike, has adopted a large street dog called Hagen. Lilli’s mum is off on a business trip with her new boyfriend, leaving her in the care of her emotionally distant but rather sensitive father who ironically works as an abattoir inspector.

Their relationship is not a close one and Lilli becomes even more distant from him when he insists on her getting rid of her loveable pet. Budapest is a city full of street dogs and the Hungarians appear to be a great deal less keen on animal welfare than most European countries. Hagen is soon picked up by a new owner, an unscrupulous dog fighter, who sets about turning him into a savage warrior-dog, before he escapes and ends up in the Police dog pound, where he stages a mass canine uprising. The transformation is both sad and frightening but there are also poignant moments as Hagen as his ‘mate,’ a sweet Jack Russell, desperately try to evade re-capture by their enemies – human beings. And it is this balance of power that underpins Mundruczó’s unique drama transforming it from an animal adventure to a satire with universal appeal. WHITE DOG is quite literally, a tale of the ‘underdog’ rising up and claiming his rightful place in society: on a more sinister level it could represent the masses over-taking society. A captivating and provocative piece of filmmaking. MT

NOW ON BFI PLAYER | Dedicated to the late Miklós Jancsó, WHITE GOD won PRIX UN CERTAIN REGARD in Cannes 2014.

Colonel Redl | Oberst Redl (1985) **** Streaming

Dir.: Istvan Szabo; Cast: Karl-Maria Brandauer, Hans-Christian Blech, Armin Müller-Stahl, Gudrun Landgrebe, Jan Niklas, Dorottya Udvaros, Laszlo Galffy; Hungary/West Germany/Yugoslavia/ Austria 1985, 144 min.

Colonel Redl is the second part of a trilogy of true life fables dealing with the political and psychological milieu in Hungary in the early half of the 20th Century. Flanked by Mephisto (1981) and Hanussen (1988) which unfurl in Germany, Colonel Redl is set in the final years before the outbreak of the First World War in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Adapted from A Patriot For Me by John Osborne, it centres on the rise and fall of an opportunistic real life character, a bisexual Austrian officer who trades in his integrity for personal gain, betraying Austro-Hungarian secrets to the Russians on the cusp of war.

Karl-Maria Brandauer is the driving force of these three films with his sheer physicality and the mesmerising power of his performance impersonating three well known Europeans who find themselves dicing with intricate moral dilemmas. Although Mephisto is by far the most dazzling here Colonel Redl certainly has its moments under masterly direction of Istvan Szabo who cinematographer Lajos Koltai also photographed the other two features.

Alfred Redl (Brandauer) grew up in modest circumstances, but was educated at a prestigious military school. There he met fellow student Krystof Kubinyi (Niklas), who invited him to holiday on the estate of his aristocratic family. There Redl meets his sister Katalin (Landgrebe), who has a crush on him. But Alfred is drawn to Krystof, even though he would go on to enjoys the sexual favours of Katalin. Redl is a social climber and over-ambitious at work, where he rules his men with a draconian command. General Von Roden (Blech) is impressed with him, and promotes him to chief of Military Intelligence. Even though Redl is aware of his sexual ambivalence, he marries a Viennese wife from the upper classes (Udvaros), still lusting over Krystof, even though they have a falling out. Introduced to Archduke Franz-Ferdinand (Müller-Stahl), he tries to find a scapegoat, preferably from the Ukraine, whose trial would go on to send shock-waves through the officer corps. Redl is unaware of being the chosen sacrificial lamb, and after passing on secrets to his lover Velocchio (Galffy), he commits suicide on 19th March 1913 saving himself and the army a trial for treason.

Szabo plays fast and loose with historical facts, and the focus is very much Redl’s dual personality, which manifests itself in his sexual orientation and spying activities. Like many in his position, he feels alienated and pays a heavy price for professional and social success. Brandauer also brings out the sadist in him, taking pleasure in degrading others in public. His love for Krystof is equal to his envy for his position in life, and he would do anything to swop places with him. Redl excels professionally but is always aware of his lowly upbringing, he get rid of his sister by palming her off with money, but forbidding her to visit him again. 

If there is one criticism here it is the over-bloated narrative. There was no need for an epic, the scenes of Redl’s youth at home add unnecessary detail. Brandauer is brillaint most of the time, but sometimes overdoes the ‘tortured soul ‘moments. The rest of the ensemble is excellent, with Landgrebe’s Katalin moving as the woman who tries desperately to change the sexual orientation of a gay man. DoP Laszlo Koltai (Malena) succeeds in re-creating the glamour and decadence of the Vienna court, everything glitters and glows, and the imperial architecture is playing a major part. Colonel Redl might not be Szabo’s most outstanding work, but it is still a stunning story and and won a BAFTA in 1986 and the Jury Prize at Cannes 1985. AS

NOW FREE ONLINE BY KIND PERMISSION OF THE HUNGARIAN CULTURE CENTRE LONDON UK   

 

Budapest Noir (2017) *** UK Jewish Film Festival 2018

Dir.: Eva Gardos; Cast: Krisztian Kolovratnik, Reka Tenki, Janos Kulka, Adel Kovats, Franziska Töröcsik; Hungary 2017, 94 min.

Veteran director Eva Gardos (An American Rhapsody) serves up a slick but conventional noir spoof that offers decent entertainment despite its cliche-ridden script. There are too many holes in the narrative, the brothel scenes are voyeuristic, and without any knowledge of the complex Hungarian history of the era, audiences will find it hard to understand what’s going on. But BUDAPEST NOIR looks simply stunning and serves as a perceptive study of Hungarian fascism and Anti-Semitism.

In October 1936, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Gömbös, had died of cancer in Munich. His body was received in Budapest with full military honours (Gömbös had boasted about his fascist credentials). Crime reporter Zsigmond Gordon (Kolovratnik) meets an enigmatic young woman in a restaurant, who tells the waiter that the journalist will pick up her bill. When he finds her note to him, promising to pay back the money, the womanising journalist’s interest is aroused – only to discover her murdered a few days later. But when her body then disappears from the morgue, Gordon makes his own inquiries against the advice of the authorities. He finds out that the girl in question, Fanny (Töröcsik), is the daughter of Andras Szöllosy, a wealthy Jewish coffee importer with links to the government. He converted to Catholicism, and started a lucrative business with Nazi Germany. Helped by his on/off girl friend Krisztina (Tenki), a photographer who had just had an assignment in a German camp (sic), Gordon finds out that Fanny’s father had driven his daughter into prostitution, forbidding her to see her Jewish boyfriend, because of his fears for her future. But after Fanny had become pregnant in a high-class brothel, her situation deteriorated. And when Gordon finally catches up with Fanny’s parents, he mother Irma (Kovats) reacts dramatically.

Sad to say, Hungarian Fascists were as brutal as their Germans counterparts. The ruling Regent, Admiral Horthy, felt superior to Hitler, who had spent a decade in a dosshouse. Gömbös, Horthy’s Prime Minister, wanted two nations to be more closely allied, whilst Horthy only supported Hitler without reservations after the outbreak of WWII, when Hungarian troops fought on the side of the Axis.

It is ironic that Horthy was deposed by Hitler when it came to the deportation of the 400 000 Hungarian Jews in 1944 – it turned out that the Hungarian fascists (Pfeilkreuzler) and the population as a whole, did not share Horthy’s reservation, they enthusiatiscally assisted the Germans to send the Jews to the death camps.

There are scenes of open Anti-Semitism in Budapest Noir: in one scene, a bar singer croons a song composed by a Jew, and some Anti-Semites in the audience attack him. Gordon stops them, but the real fighter is his Krisztina, who leaves him for London, to show her death camp images in an exhibition “because over there are people who really care”. The Szöllosy’s family history is typical for Jews of the region: many had converted to Catholicism, trying to deny their Jewish heritage, and, like Fanny’s father, would marry their offspring to anybody but a Jew. Gordon represents the cynical by-stander, who is only after a good story, he does not mind taking a beating, but is totally non-committed on a personal and political level. Strangely enough, Budapest Noir is – in spite of its obvious faults – a mirror of a society where the points for the future genocide are being put in place. AS

SCREENING DURING UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL 2018 |

2 Films by Marta Meszaros and Miklos Jancso

Although Bela Tarr is perhaps the most widely known Hungarian film director, arguably the greatest Hungarian filmmakers of all time are Marta Meszaros (Diary for my Children) and Miklos Jancso (My Way Home), who died in 2014. Married between 1958 and 1968, they had three children: one of them, director of photography Nyika Jancso (Jancso’s son from a former marriage), who worked regularly for both directors, and the couple’s granddaughter Anna Jansco, a producer, introduced these two films at a recent screening laid on in London by the Hungarian Cultural Forum.

It was interesting to hear that both Meszaros (*1931) and Jansco (1921-2014), had started out as Newsreel directors, followed by many years as documentary filmmakers before they embarked on features. Meszaros had a particularly hard time getting into film school, and women directors were more or less unheard of in 1950s Hungary. The fact that she had her youth in the USSR worked to her favour, and she was given a place at the prestigious VGIK film academy in Moscow. Diary for my Children (the first part of the trilogy Diary for my Lovers and Diary for my Father and Mother) was finished in 1984, but languished on the back shelf as its harsh critique of Stalinism was deemed not suitable for Hungarian audiences. Luckily, it was screened for the selection committee of the Cannes Festival, were it was shown in competition, winning the Grand Prix (and runner-up to Wenders’ Paris, Texas) in 1984. Meszaros, who had already won the Golden Bear in Berlin 1975 for Adoption, was now, together with her ex-husband Jansco, the new face of Hungarian cinema.

DIARY FOR MY CHILDREN (NAPLO GYERMEKEIMNEK) | Dir.: Marta Meszaros; Cast: Zsuzsa Czinkoczi, Anna Polony, Jan Nowicki, Pal Zolnay; Hungary 1984, 106 min.

With its strong autobiographical undertones Diary for my Children opens with a homecoming: young Juli (Czinkoczi), her ‘aunt’ Magda (Polony) and ‘grandfather’ Nagypapa (Zolnay) land in 1947 Budapest on their return from exile in the USSR. But Juli’s real parents are dead: her father (Nowicki), a well-known sculptor, has vanished in one of Stalin’s purges, her mother has also perished. Somehow Nagypapa and Magda, who is a very committed Stalinist, bought their survival with an oath of silence, but Juli holds Magda responsible for her father’s death. Magda’s friend Janos, also played by Nowicki, has chosen to work in factory, instead of for the Party, a mistake that will cost him dearly. Meanwhile, Juli steals Magda’s cinema pass, and spends her days in the cinema, instead of at school. Janos is finally arrested for not toeing the Party line, and Juli moves out of Magda’s opulent apartment, to look after Janos wheelchair-bound son, working in a factory. Originally, Meszaros had planned to end with a scene from Mikheil Chiaureli’s 1950 propaganda film The Fall of Berlin, (showing Stalin, played by regular ‘Generalissimo’ actor Mikheil Gelivani, as a God-like figure in his white uniform) – but the feature had since been banned, and the authorities did not wanted to be reminded of the situation. Diary is shot in impressive grainy black-and-white by Nyika Jansco, who remembers to this day how nervous he was about doing his best.

MY WAY HOME | Dir.: Miklos Jansco; Cast: Sergei Nikomenko, Andras Kozak; Hungary 1964, 108 min.

Miklos Jansco’s work is usually very symbolic and inaccessible, often getting him into trouble with the censors for the dreaded ‘Formalism’. My Way Home, his third as a director, is one of the most personal features.  Set during the last days of WWII near the Hungarian border, it tells the story of the teenage Hungarian soldier Joska (Kozak) who is captured first by the fleeing Nazis, then the advancing Russians. Whilst serving the Russians as an agricultural worker, he befriends the Soviet soldier Kolja (Nikonenko), who is dying slowly and painfully from a stomach wound. They herd the cows together, but when Kolja starts bleeding internally, Joska is unable to get to a doctor in time due to his being mistaken for a German national. Shot in the black-and-white with a austerity that echoes the work  of Bresson, My Way Home is a reflection on humanity’s capacity for violence as well as forgiving. AS

 

Jupiter’s Moon (2017)

Dir|Writer; Kornel Mundruczo | Cast: Merab Ninidze, Gyorgy Cserhalmi, Monika Balsai, Zsombor Jeger | 110min | Sci-fi | Hungary

After success with his Cannes Un Certain Regard winner White God (2013) Hungarian auteur Kornel Mundruczo mades it into the festival’s main competition last year with this flawed sci-fi thriller that sees a young immigrant shot down while illegally crossing the border into Hungary. Terrified and in shock, he finds his life has mysteriously been transformed by the gift of levitation.

Clearly the director has honed his craft since his previous arthouse winner with its strong amd imaginative narrative . JUPITER is visually more ambitious and technically brilliant but narratively a mess. The bewildering storyline starts off with a great premise – a Syrian refugee becomes an angel in one of Jupiter’s Moons where a cold ocean known as Europa spawns new forms of life. The metaphor is clear and cleverly thought out yet the film tries to be too many things, a political commentary and an action thriller: less would have been far more effective than more. After a blindingly intriguing opening scene, the shaky handheld camera continues in a tonally uniform almost continuous take that eventually feels exhausting, and hardly ever gives up, detracting from the enjoyment of the stunning set pieces.

Zsombor Jéger is the central character but not a sympathetic or particularly engaging one as Aryan, the Syrian refugee who is gunned down by László (György Cserhalmi), the nasty leader of a refugee camp in Budapest. Aryan survives his injuries and then discovers an uncanny ability to float, and from then on desperately tries to find his father with the help of a nefarious doctor, Stern (Merab Ninidze), who has been struck off for medical malpractice. Aryan is inveigled into a plan to defraud Stern’s rich patients into believing he has faith healing properties, but this is a tenuous ploy that again feels too gimmicky.

White God had a believable plot with engaging characters but Jupiter’s Moon, although a far more technically skilful film, feels hollow, glib and also frankly quite laborious despite the arresting visual wizardry of White God cinematographer Marcell Rév. Ninidze Stern’s Gabor is a quixotic and cunning rogue and far and away the most exciting character in an ensemble of cardboard cyphers. Along with the visual mastery there is an impressive atmospheric score that helps to ramp up the tension and also adds a certain gravitas. A shame then that the whole things feels so underwhelming and unwieldy as a story. Clearly the director is trying to up his game but needs to establish whether he wants to go for arthouse audiences or the mainstream crowd. White God was starting to build him a fanbase, but this seems like a step backwards. MT

ON GENERAL RELEASE AT SELECTED ARTHOUSE CINEMAS FROM 5 January 2018

Liza, the Fox-Fairy | LIZA, A ROKATUNDER (2015) |

Dir.: Karoly Ujj Meszaros;

Cast: Monika Balsal, David Sakurai, Szbolcs Bede Fazekas

Hungary 2015, 94 min.

LIZA, THE FOX-FAIRY is one of the highest Hungarian budget features to be produced in recent years.  The debut of director and co-writer Karoly Ujj Meszaros, it was first developed at Cannes’ Cinefondation Atelier in 2010 and was finally released in Hungary this year, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea: the black, morbid humour may not translate very well outside Hungary, and the mixture of styles (the production design of Amelie combined with the narrative of a Tobe Hooper film) serves up many surprises, but could also be seen as over the top.

Nurse Liza (Balsal), is the long-term carer of Marta, the widow of a Japanese diplomat. She is obsessed with the ghost of the Japanese pop singer Tomy Tani (Sakurai), who appears to her inclusively in her dreams. On her 30th birthday she dreams that Tani murders Marta, and then goes on a killing spree, doing away with every person who falls in love with Liza. Naturally Liza becomes the main suspect in the investigation but inspector Zoltan Zaszlos’ (Fazekas) believes in her innocence. Liza gets through this traumatic experience by imagining that she has been transformed into a Fox-Fairy, a deadly demon from Japanese folklore.

Meszaros started life directing commercials in Japan and, in an interview, admits to being a big fan of Japanese culture: “Japanese culture is strange and unique. And in a way, some Japanese traditions are like some Hungarian ones. I also like Japanese pop music. I am especially fond of Asian Pop groups from the 160s and 1970s.”

While most of his compatriots are now making films in English, Meszaros opted to make the film in Hungarian. His success at the ‘Fantasponto’ Festival, where he won the ‘Grand Prix’, seems to contradict the rule that only English films have a chance of success. LIZA is very much in the vein of Gyorgy Palfi’s Taxiderma: the grotesqueness of the murders and the vivid primary colours of DOP Pete Szatmari evoke a dreamworld of horror and timeless weirdness; set in the 70s yet with all the trappings of neo-capitalism on show.

Monika Balsal is the main reason why LIZA works, in spite of its culture crashes and quotes that overload the narrative: her impressive turn as the innocent fairy-tale princess captures the audience’s imagination much more than the irritating cleverness and outlandishness of script and direction. AS

 

Car Park (2015) Parkoló | European Film Festival Palic 2015 | July 18 -24

Dir.: Bemnce Miklauzic

Cast: Ferenc Lengyel, Tibor Szervét, Lia Pokorny, Kálmán Somody, Zoltán Rajkal

Hungary 2014, 92 min.

Bemnce Miklauzic’s surrealist drama CAR PARK is a brilliant portrait of today’s Hungary: aggressive males dominate, status is everything and the crass materialism of the capitalist order brings out the worst in nearly everyone.

Miklauzic (CHILDREN OF THE GREEN DRAGON) has set his film mainly in a car park, hemmed in by houses on all sides. Légiós (Lengyel), the owner of the lot, has a traumatic past which he keeps alientated from everyone. Even his closest friend and assistant Attila (Rajkal) does not know what happened to him, or if Legios really served in the foreign legion. Legios’ main interest is keeping some young fledglings – nestled above a billboard – safe from the marauding neighbourhood cat.

One day, Imre, a transit entrepreneur and typical “Budapest Suit”, appears in his 1968 Ford Mustang. He asks for the only roofed parking space, which Legios denies him. Later we learn that Legios buries the bodies of the birds here. Legios and Imre take great delight in jossling for superiority. When Imre installs CCTV in Légiós’ caravan and watches from his penthouse office overlooking the car park, Legios gets his own back by sleeping with Ildiko (Pokorny), the wife of Edgar, a corrupt policeman, who has been sacked. Whilst Attila listens to the boiling cooking pot, and translates the noises into Morse-code, we learn that Imre has a kidney disease, which makes him impotent; his wife wanting a divorce, which her husband fights with his usual intransigence. When Imre shows Edgar the incriminating video of his wife and Légiós, and has a poster installed on the billboard, which gives away Légiós’Ó traumatic past, he sets up a duel to the death – something both men wanted all along.

CAR PARK would be worthy of Buñuel; Miklauzic shows human cruelty with great imagination. His sense of perversity is particularly evident in the surprise ending. The ensemble acting is very convincing, and the director uses the seemingly limited space of the car park to great effect. Shades of Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW enhance this absurd tragedy of isolation, mental and physical violence, greed and male death wish – attributes, which unfortunately manifested themselves under very different political regimes during the last century in Hungary. AS

SCREENING AT PALIC | SERBIA | EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL 18 -24 JULY 2015

Stream of Love (2014) | DocHouse

Director: Ágnes Sós

With Veronika Both, Ferencz Kósa, Rózalia Barabás, Jenõné Martin

70min   Documentary   Hungarian with subtitles

The ability to speak your mind, honestly and without guile is one of benefits of old age. The game of subterfuge is over. There is nothing left to hide. Writer and director, Ágnes Sós explores the simple way of life a remote rural community in Hungary, unchanged for nearly a hundred years. The villagers (aged 75 – 90+) share their stories without coyness or sentimentality; telling it like it is and calling a spade a spade. At least twenty five of them are widows. But of those still married, one woman confesses honestly of her husband: “Why didn’t God take the desire, when he took the ability.” Others are more appreciative and candid when they talk about their memories and experiences of past pleasures But one lonely man admits: “I can’t have a good one, But I don’t need a bad one.” Most of the revelations seem to revolve around sex or relationships but the villagers have all reached a stage in life where they are are grateful to be enjoy the simple daily routine and the rhythm of the seasons: Raising and tending the animals, kneading the bread, growing produce and preparing food. And one chap also adds: “I’ve been mad about love and kissing, all my life”.

Ágnes Sós filmed this endearing doc over a two-and-a-half-year period with the help of her cinematographer Zoltán Lovasi. In the quiet corner of rural Hungary, there is not a car, a modern building or or a ‘phone mast in sight and many of the villagers still ride around in horse-drawn carts including Ferenc, who still has an eye for the local ladies and often greets them with a pleasantry as he passes by. The women have the same desires as the men; one talks of being the most attractive and cleverest in the village, but also confesses to murder at the ago of 80. Another admits she didn’t enjoy an orgasm until she was well into her sixties, and by her own hand, while washing. She also adds that there is nothing better in life than being in love. Preferring the old ways of courting, the men are eager to insist that they still feel randy and can even still perform ‘but not one after the other!’ Clearly, this is a society where men have always been respected and obeyed yet one man does admit that he tolerated his wife’s infidelity, putting it down to her ‘unusual needs’. Strangely no one talks very much about their success in business or material wealth. The message is clear from these old folk: ‘enjoy love and sex while you’re still able’.

The most heartening aspect of this documentary is the not just the closeness of this strong community but the glorious natural beauty of the Hungarian countryside during the daisy-strewn Summer and in the glistening snow – the colour green dominates both outside in the grassy meadows and hills and inside where is seems to be the choice of wall-colouring or garments. The only sad memory we take away is of a trusting and faithful group of people whose way of life and fond attachment to the land will soon be gone forever . MT

STREAM OF LOVE is SCREENING AT BERTHA-DOCHOUSE at the newly refurbished CURZON BLOOMSBURY –  from 28 March until 2 April 2015. Tickets HERE 

New Hungarian Cinema

Despite recent successes for Hungarian indie film – the future looks uncertain – Andre Simonoveisz explores the reasons why:

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Hungarian cinema has been arthouse-orientated since the mid-seventies when the reformist/revisionist Hungarian CP no longer believed that Hungarian fare could compete with Western productions. For directors like Miklos Jansco, Istvan Szabo, Martha Meszaros or Pal Sandor, who dominated the film scene until the fall of communism, this meant co-productions with Germany and France and many prizes at international festivals, whilst the home market was dominated by Hollywood.

safe_image-1.php The next generation – Ildyko Enydi, Gabor Body and Bela Tarr went the same way: success in the West, but no competition for mainstream cinema in Hungary. But since the turn of the Millennium the money from co-productions has dried out largely due to the fact that Hungarian filmmakers, like many others from “liberated” countries, used their new freedom to create films they thought would appeal to wider Western audiences, only to find out that they could not compete with the majors.

Another reason for this was that Western arthouse audiences had loved these filmmakers because they rebelled against the One-Party state. But after 1989, this reason for their support of East European cinema was not given any more and funding for home-made productions in all ex-communist states dried out. The exception was East Germany, were finance was provided generously by the German government.

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Between 2009 and 2012, Hungarian film drifting in the doldrums as hardly any money was made  available to the sector. The foundation of the new Hungarian National Film Fund in 2013 changed all this. Until the end of 2013, 27 films received production grants, 70 grants for script and project development. By the end of the year, 20 films had been completed, most of them Hungarian majority productions. The average Hungarian films had budgets of around 600 000 Euro (200m HUF). The biggest budget was given to Gyorgy Palfi for the upcoming production of TOLDI (1.6b HUF). Fourteen new films are expected to be finished by the close of 2014. TV co-productions have not picked up, since commercial channels prefer comedies, a genre rather neglected by the contemporary directors. Hungarian cinema has already lost one important director to Hollywood, Nimrod Antal, whose KONTROLL (2003) was one of the very few home grown successes in Hungarian cinemas – his recent output also includes blockbuster, PREDATORS (2011).

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The new wave of films, like the ones shown in Karlovy Vary this July, bear witness to the fact that most of the current directors work very much within the traditional style of their predecessors. This goes particularly for Adam Csaszi, whose LAND OF STORMS flies very much in the face of the semi-fascist government of the day, repeating the experiences of subversive filmmakers in their fight against Stalinism. Konrad Mundruczo’s Un Certain Regard Winner (2014) WHITE GOD is another of this year’s success stories along with three films which were premiered in Karlovy Vary: Gabor Reisz’ FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON and UTOELET (Afterlife), by Virag Zomboracz, show the conflict with the authoritarian father-generation, and Palfi’s FREEFALL, for which he won Best Director this year at Karlovy Vary, portrays the rather grim aspects of modern Budapest, when a woman jumps from the sixth floor to her death.

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But the outlook is perhaps not as rosy as many believe: the trend of foreign dominance is difficult to stop- in 2013 over ten million people visited the cinema, but only five (from a total of 135) domestic films were screened. And their attraction remains very weak: OUR WOMEN by Peter Szajki garnered 30,000 admissions, the Berlin “Silver Bear” winner, JUST THE WIND, directed by Benedek Fliegauf, could not do any better. And Janos Szasz’ THE NOTEBOOK, a WWII drama, which won the “Crystal Globe” in Karlovy Vary (2013), did even worse. In Budapest alone, the art house scene has lost seven cinemas since 2009, with attendances steadily declining. AS

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